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US gaming body claims illegal offshore betting down 25%

US State Gambling Regulators Forum

US peak gambling industry body, the American Gaming Association (AGA), says its own data has demonstrated that US gamblers are betting less with illegal bookmakers and offshore wagering providers.

According to the AGA’s own research average spending with illegal bookies fell 25 percent in legal sports betting states last year, while legal online and mobile betting spend increased 12 percent.

Illegal offshore operators also saw a three percent increase in states with legal sports betting, which the AGA suggest is due to gamblers being unaware of legal versus illegal brands.

The most influential factors for bettors who had shifted from the illegal to legal market are confidence that bets will be paid out (25%), awareness of legal options (20%), and a desire to use a regulated book (19%).

“We’ve known for a long time that Americans like to bet on sports. This research affirms their interest in moving toward the protections of the legal market,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Giving consumers convenient alternatives to the illegal market, like regulated mobile offerings and competitive odds, is key for getting bettors to switch to legal channels.”

US bettors overwhelmingly prefer legal operators, with 74 percent saying it is important to only bet through legal providers. Despite this, 52 percent of sports bettors participated in the illegal market in 2019. The study found that illegal sports betting is driven largely by confusion about online operators. More than half (55%) of consumers who placed most of their wagers with illegal operators believed they bet legally.

“Illegal, offshore operators continue to take advantage of unknowing consumers,” continued Miller. “This only worsened during the sports shutdown, with unregulated bookmakers offering odds on everything from the weather and shark migration patterns to whether your friends’ marriage will survive the pandemic. The AGA is focused on educating customers on how to wager legally and the dangers of the illegal market, especially with the return of the MLB and NBA this month.”

The AGA is actively collaborating with federal and state law enforcement to enhance collective understanding of the illegal marketplace; engaging publishers and media to ensure their platforms do not promote the illegal marketplace; and educating the public about the dangers associated with illegal sports betting operators.

In the US, 18 states plus the District of Columbia now offer legal regulated sports betting, with four more states poised to open legal markets in the coming months.

Before the COVID-19 shutdown, 2020 looked set to become another record-breaking year with $3.5 billion legally wagered in January and February, up from $1.9 billion the same time last year.

Legal US sports betting sites are available to 22.4 million more American adults than before the COVID-19 pandemic, as Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. have all gone live since mid-March.

Americans have legally wagered more than $22 billion on sports nationwide since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, generating upwards of $198 million in tax revenue to state and local governments.

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